Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Janis Pearson's Quilt



Stars, 1972, by Janis M. Pearson
One of the quilts on display in my special exhibit of 1970s quilts at QuiltCon was a quilt made by Janis Pearson in 1972. Janis is a friend and fellow guild mate here in the Portland area, and I first got to know her in 2010, when she shared her stunning, original whitework quilt with the Oregon Quilt Project documentation team during the project's first year of documenting quilts.

I remember thinking it was an antique quilt because of the fine hand work and dense quilting stitches, but it was so bright and white, like new. I was working at the photography station. So, I asked her where she found the quilt. That's when I found out she made it. My jaw was on the floor.

Janis Pearson's 1972 Stars quilt was displayed prominently at QuiltCon
When Janis wanted to donate her whitework quilt to Latimer Quilt & Textile Center, I happily assisted; brought the quilt to Tillamook, got the paperwork rolling, and helped facilitate the donation. It was a very generous donation, and a thrilling acquisition for the collection at Latimer, which already had a stellar collection of Oregon made quilts.

Around the same time, I started collecting 1970s quilts, and Janis generously gave me her calico Stars quilt in 2011. You can read about it here.

Janis Pearson's 1972 Stars quilt was an important acquisition from the get-go because there was a link to the maker. I could speak with her directly about the quilt, and what it was like making quilts in the period. In my first feature article about 1970s quilts, "Quilting in the 1970s: When Bed Quilts Became Works of Art" in American Quilter Magazine (AQS May, 2013), I interviewed Janis, along with a few other quiltmakers who made quilts in the 1970s.


"There was a whole lot of sewing going on in Portland, but it was primarily dressmaking," said Janis, a self-taught quiltmaker, in the interview. When asked about polyester, she said, "I don't recall wearing double knit polyester clothing. It was heavy and stiff and did not drape well." However, I did sew double knit polyester work outfits for my mom." She remembers every store in Portland at the time that sold cotton fabric suitable for quilting. Many of those were dress calicoes, and her quilt certainly has a wonderful selection. The list of shops did not make it in to the article, but we have it!


Each of the 48, eight-pointed LeMoyne Stars includes diamonds in a selection of colorful calico fabrics, appliquéd, with decorative feather stitching between patches and a blanket stitch outlining each star. The stars appear in eight rows, with six stars in each row, and a total of 384 diamond-shaped calico patches. The placement of colors varies in each star, giving the quilt a dynamic sense of movement.


Inscriptions were not uncommon on quilts made throughout American quilt history, but it is rare to find a quilt signed and dated on the front, in the lower right-hand corner, as a painting would be signed. That was how Janis signed her quilt, with an embroidered inscription. I think it's brilliant, and it is wonderful to know how her work progressed as she continued making quilts through the years.

This type of inscription may seem like a small detail, but it's very important. There were few rules, and quilts were being viewed as works of art, so there was really no reason not to sign a quilt like any other work of art. It just hadn't been done often in the past. There had been many inscribed quilts, some with hundreds of names, but very few signed like a painting. Even today, quiltmakers tend to label the back of the quilt rather than signing the front.

"It was an honor to see the quilt I made and slept under for several years hanging in its special spot," said Janis when asked about seeing her quilt in the show. "I would see people examining it closely. They were probably saying they had clothes made out of some of those calico prints – I know I did."

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

QuiltCon Photos! (3)

"Iceberg" by Crystal McGann, Canberra MQG, Australia
Here are some more pictures from QuiltCon. I have enjoyed seeing other peoples' pictures, and realize I did not see all the quilts in the show, but the ones I did see were dynamite! 

"Icy Waters" by Amy Garro, Indianapolis MQG
"Road to Pasadena" by Kendra Nitta, Los Angeles MQG
"Balancing Act" by Amanda Hohnstreiter, Austin MQG
"Flight Path" by Mary Menzer, Virginia Beach MQG
"Abby's Abstract II" by Amanda Jean Nyberg, Clearwater, Minnesota
"For Tanya, Emily and Miriam Coffey" Lake Junaluska, NC, MQG of Asheville
pieced & quilted by Miriam Coffey
"Fractal Kaleidoscope" by Katie Larson, Kansas City MQG
"Catenary" by Carolyn Friedlander, Lake Wales, FL
"Self Study #4, The One for T" by Chawne Kimber, Easton PA
"Tune in Next Week" by Chawne Kimber, Easton PA
"Rainbow Magic" by Mollie McMahon, Canberra MQG, Australia
this quilt was made by a nine-year old, and it
received a Judge's Choice Award!!
"Las Ventanas" by Kristin Shields, Central Oregon MQG
"Blocks From the Crayon Box" and maker, Carolyn Griffith, Abilene, TX
"Modern Sunset" and maker, Lauren Palmer, Lexington, KY
"Churn Dash 2: Complementary" by members of the Seattle MQG
Pieced by Martha Peterson, Deborah Ferguson, and Chandra Wu
Quilted by Martha Peterson - who I got to meet!!
It won a ribbon, I wasn't surprised.
And yes, I asked her again if she would sell the quilt.
She said no. I don't blame her.
That doesn't mean I won't ask again... :)
Hope you enjoyed the virtual show. Please check the many other blogs with pictures of the quilts in the show. There were many great ones I missed, but I was thrilled with the ones I did see. Congratulations, quiltmakers!!

Monday, March 2, 2015

QuiltCon Photos!! (2)

"Eggs and Darts" by Amanda Leins, Gansevoort, NY
I got to meet Mandy, and she's wonderful. Her first book
drops later this year. Can't wait!!
Last week, I posted a lot of pictures of QuiltCon on Facebook, and wanted to share them here, too. I have received a lot of positive comments about including the artists' information with the pictures of their quilts. Thank you, but isn't that the right way? Anywho...in random order and not really considering the awards, here are just a few of the juried quilts that caught my eye at QuiltCon. Enjoy!

"Welcome to Colorful Colorado" by Katie Larson, Kansas City MQG
"Score for Modern Block Improv" by Sherri Lynn Wood, Oakland, CA
(my jaw was on the floor!)
"Self Portrait, Year Two (Beneath the Surface)"
by Penny Gold, Galesburg, Illinois
this quilt stunned everyone, amazing!
"Fractured Triangles" by Paula Leber, Kansas City MQG
"You Can't Rush Art" by Amanda Jean Nyberg, Clearwater, MN
"Holt Sh*t Sherlock" by Kristy Daum, St. Louis MQG
a crowd favorite
"Bauble" by Emily Cier, Seattle MQG
"Off Centre" by Andreas Rosales, Los Angeles MQG
"North Alabama Hillsides" by Cathy Fussell, Columbus, Georgia
"Shifting Impressions" by Marianne Haak, Edmonton MQG
"Score For Bias Strip Petals: Daisy" by Sherri Lynn Wood, Oakland, CA
"Lite Brite" by Maria Shell, Anchorage, Alaska
"Lowcountry" by members of the Charleston MQG; Phoebe Harrell, President
"Central Jersey MQG Banner"
by members of the Central Jersey MQG
I wanted to buy it
"Yin Yang" by Serena Brooks, Los Angeles MQG
"Face 1" by Melissa Averinos, West Barnstable, MA
worth a close look, an amazing quilt
"This Way" by Tricia Royal, Chicago MQG
someone pointed out how brilliant it was that the arrow to the right
was pointing at the award
"Lost and Found in Translation" by Victoria Findlay Wolfe, New York, NY
a thrill to see a VFW masterpiece up close
"Score for Strings: City" by Sherri Lynn Wood, Oakland, CA
(can you tell I really loved her work?? later, I found out she is friends
with Joe Cunningham and Roderick Kiracofe - I had a feeling!)
"The Conan Quilt" by Allison Chambers, San Antonio, TX
Best in Show - "i Quilt" by Kathy York, Austin MQG
a quintessential 21st century quilt
That's 22 of the juried quilts, and I have some more photos, enough for another blog post. So, I will try to post again soon! 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

QuiltCon Photos! #PMQG

Three layers of PMQG, ribbons made by Elizabeth Hartman
Giveaway Quilt pieced by Jen Carlton-Bailey
vintage 1970s quilt display by me 
It was great to be part of such a strong guild as an attendee at QuiltCon 2015 in Austin. Portland Modern Quilt Guild was just about everywhere, especially the winner's circle! "The Dishes Can Wait" by Rachel Kerley of Hillsboro won second place in the appliqué category. Rachel had four quilts in the show, and I managed to get pictures of three. Her quilt "I'm a Fan of Fabric" was sold! PMQG was part of every winner at the show, as Elizabeth Hartman made all the gorgeous ribbons. Saw her there briefly, I think she was busy teaching a lot of the time.

"The Dishes Can Wait" 2nd Place Appliqué by Rachel Kerley, PMQG
"Bowls and Balls 2" by Rachel Kerley
"I'm a Fan of Fabric" by Rachel Kerley, PMQG - SOLD!!
a dreamy-eyed Rachel receives her award
"Spiced Chai Quilt" by Katie Blakesley, PMQG
Katie Blakesley is a new member of the guild. She has co-authored a book called "Vintage Quilt Revival: 22 Modern Designs from Classic Blocks" with Lee Heinrich and Faith Jones. Her quilt "Spiced Chai" was in the show, and her vintage inspiration was evident in her stunning quilt.


Jen Carlton-Bailey's work was also very much present. She pieced the magnificent Giveaway Quilt, which was displayed near the Best in Show and my exhibit, near the entrance. Jen's gorgeous "Capsule" quilt, which was quilted by Nancy Stovall and appeared on the cover of Modern Patchwork last Spring, was also in the show.

"Capsule" by Jen Carlton-Bailey, PMQG
Susan Beal was also present, teaching and lecturing. I attended her lecture about documenting modern quilts, and she did a beautiful job. We had discussed quilt documentation at length in the past, and she remembered everything we talked about, and more! Plus, she included images of quilts from my collection and told their stories. I was really proud of Susan, and PMQG, for being the first to document Modern quilts.
This quilt from my collection was part of Susan Beal's lecture.
She used it as an example of the importance of documentation and
saving our quilts' stories. The maker of the quilt is unknown.
It was thrilling to represent Portland Modern Quilt Guild, reportedly the largest Modern Quilt Guild local/chapter group in the world, with a special exhibit of 1970s quilts called "Modern Materials, Quilts of the 1970s". If you have followed my blog, you probably saw the photos already, but if not, keep scrolling through the blog posts over the last couple weeks and you'll find them.


There were 20 quilts in the special exhibit, and I gave tours on three days, plus two lectures. It was a phenomenal experience, and at certain points I could be seen wearing my sky blue PMQG T-shirt from Phantom Chicken, PMQG member Gail Weiss ("the Hexie Queen") and her husband Gregg.

There were several other guild members in attendance. and I stopped to chat whenever I recognized someone from the guild. There may have been other people and other quilts I missed, but I included as much as possible in this blog post. Next year's event will be held in Pasadena - west coast!! - so we can certainly look forward to another great showing from Portland Modern Quilt Guild.